The Mysterious Benedict Society #1

Reynie, Sticky, Kate, and Constance. These are four very unique kids. They are the four specially selected kids that are now part of the Mysterious Benedict Society. And their lives will never be the same. When Reynard Muldoon saw the advertisement in the paper that read “Are You a Gifted Child Looking for Special Opportunities?” he was interested immediately. And so it was that he soon found himself in a classroom, taking a very unusual test. And guess what? He was the only one among the students in the room that passed. Reynie, as he likes to be called, then meets three other interesting children: A major egghead called Sticky, a talented girl named Kate, and a little grump called Constance. At the midst of it all is a curious character by the name of Mr. Benedict. The four are shipped off on a mission right away, against a cunning enemy. This book, by Trenton Lee Stewart, was very imaginative and entertaining. You would definitely benefit from taking a look!

Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly

Gail Carson Levine! Yay! She’s awesome! OK, now that my enthusiasm is out, let’s continue. This book is, in fact, not one of Gail Carson Levine’s usual fantasy novels. This is a book on how to write them. And it’s fabulous! The tips and instructions are easy to follow, written in the author’s usual captivating way. It will help you write all kinds of things, not just books. It’s perfect for both beginning writers and HUGE Gail Carson Levine fans. (Both of which I am!) I was so excited when I got it from the library, I didn’t put it down all day. I am crazy about it, mostly for the great advice it gave me and how it wasn’t just a boring old book of instructions. It was way, way more. So, I think that this book could really help anyone who needs advice on writing, or just loves the author.

The Clockwork Three

Amazing. An amazing book. The Clockwork Three is supposedly Matthew J. Kirby’s debut novel, but it’s hard to believe this is so. I loved it. The author wrote with wonderful use of language and gave a very satisfying plot and characters. At times, I admit I did think the characters were a bit unbelievingly emotional, but everything else makes up for it. Giuseppe, an Italian busker with a cruel padrone, wants nothing more than to return home to his brother and sister. Frederick, an orphaned apprentice clockmaker, wants nothing more than to make journeyman. And Hannah, a young girl working in a very fine hotel, wants nothing more than for her father to recover from his illness and for everything to be right with the world again. But cruel fate plays games with the children, giving something good (like a green violin) and then snatching it back again. Eventually, the two boys and girl become acquainted with one another, and find they cannot fulfill any of their dreams unless they join forces. This was an excellent novel, and I really reccomend you pick it up. Now.

Nutcracker

Nutcracker, Illustrated by Maurice SendakWho hasn’t heard of the Nutcracker, and in this festive season, it’s even harder to miss. I discovered the book on my shelf last year, and decided I’d give it a try. I knew a bit of the story, like how a little girl called Marie Stahlbaum gets a nutcracker for Christmas, but that is only a fragment of the tale. In reality, the book is much more. True, Marie does receive a nutcracker for Christmas, but did you know that he came to life that night as she played in the glass cabinet, just in time to do battle with the evil seven-headed mouse king and his army? I didn’t think so. Gradually, the little girl is drawn into a fantastical world, filled with interesting characters like Princess Pirlipat, Madam Mouserinks, and Godfather Drosselmeir, of course. And the valiant and loyal Nutcracker is at the center of it all. I quite enjoyed this book because of the out-of-this-world plot and the pleasing characters. I strongly advise you end the holiday season in a good way, by reading this book.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon

Before we get started, just let me apologize for not having written a review for anything in a while. Busy, busy, busy! But I’m back. So. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon is an enchanting story, created by Grace Lin. You will meet Minli, a young dreamer of a girl that must spend each day working hard in the fields to support her family. She’s stuck in the Valley of the Fruitless Mountain, where her greatest joy is to hear her father tell fantastical stories every night, though her mother finds them nonsensical and stupid. Spurred by her family’s troubles and Ba’s stories of the Old Man in the Moon, Minli runs away. Her quest is to find the Man who knows the answer to everything, which is not as easy as it seems. But she has help: A dragon that cannot fly is her partner in the journey. This book was well written, and the stories and characters will delight all. Plus, the illustrations were just fantastic. Read it now!

The Ear, the Eye and the Arm

Meet the best detectives in Zimbabwe, 2194: The Ear, the Eye and the Arm. These three clever and unique characters are set to work chasing down General Matsika’s three children, after they sneaked out one night. But it’s not nearly as easy as it seems to track down the three kids-and many obstacles are in the way. And for the kids themselves, they find terrible danger, in the form of the She Elephant and many others. Filled with the wonder that comes with the futuristic setting created by Nancy Farmer, The Ear, the Eye and the Arm is a book that both boys and girls will like. I know I did. The imaginative plot and characters helped, even though I wasn’t always quite enthralled throughout. There’s a wide range of characters: The goofy ones, the serious ones, the old-fashioned ones-the list goes on. It’s a book for everyone. Read a bit!

What Do You Do With a Kangaroo?

I loved this book as a little kid. It was just so fun! Written by Mercer Mayer, it’s a book that tells the story of a little girl who wakes up one day to find a kangaroo in her bedroom! Suddenly, the animal starts telling her what to do and is acting like he lives there! So what does she do? Throw him out, of course! I mean, what would you do? But it doesn’t end there. There’s an opossum in the bathroom and all kinds of other creatures! The girl is at her wit’s end. But, believe me, you’ll be giggling as you turn the pages, happily absorbing the hilarious antics of the characters. They’re the reason I enjoyed this book so much. What Do You Do With a Kangaroo? is a wonderful little book to read to your kids when they’re gloomy, or even when they’re not! So, I’d go at least check this book out, if I were you.

The Two Princesses of Bamarre

One thing you need to know about me- I am a huge Gail Carson Levine fan. I have read all her kids’ books, and watched the movie made of Ella Enchanted. And, speaking of that book, that is the one the author is most famous for. Which is exactly why I’m writing a review for one of the lesser known ones. Okay? Phew! Glad we got that cleared up. Anyway, the two princesses of Bamarre are Addie and Meryl, and though they care very much for each other, they are as different as the hero Drualt and an ogre. And the world couldn’t be more wrong when it chooses Meryl, the heroine, to fall to her bed with the Gray Death and Addie, the maiden who is scared of everything, to set off on a quest for the cure. O, the fantastic world of Bamarre! Full of mystical beasts and adventures just waiting to be had. And Gail Carson Levine tells her story in compelling, well-chosen words to keep the reader immersed throughout. The adventure, the language, that is why I love this book. And that is why I think you would, too! So, mark my words, you better go buy or borrow this book, I don’t care which! And a warning: The ending is a little bittersweet.

Touch Blue

Touch Blue, by Cynthia Lord, is a short and sweet novel. Tess lives on what she obviously considers the best place in the world: Bethsaida, a small island where everyone knows everyone and the school only needs one teacher. Speaking of the school, it’s in trouble, for the State of Maine plans to shut it down, due to lack of students. In an attempt to save their home, the islanders agree that five foster children will arrive and be taken in. And this is how Tess’s family ends up with Aaron, a thirteen-year-old and gifted musician. But Aaron is just so hard to figure out, and that idiot Eben Calder is causing problems. Tess can’t even tell if her new foster brother likes her and her home or not! Tess needs all the good luck she’s ever needed. But there are the good parts: Lobstering with Dad, working on the old boat Tess has, etc. I really liked the book for the freedom the main character had, and it was well written. The little sayings about luck at the beginning of each chapter were interesting, too. At least take a look next time you’re at the library, okay?